Since the days of Charlie Chaplain, actors directing their own films have become increasingly common. Whether they want to further their craft or their own egos is debatable. What isn’t is the differing quality of their directorial projects. Robert Redford and George Clooney have excelled in their self-made movies, while others have fallen flat. ‘The Water Diviner’ finds Russell Crowe taking a turn behind the camera. Crafting an interesting film, it shows he has creative talent behind his sometimes boorish persona.
In 1919, Australian farmer Conner (Russell Crowe) is on a quest. Wanting to discover the fate of his three sons who fought in Gallipoli, he travels to Turkey. While staying in a hotel run by Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), Connor teams with a Turkish officer. Travelling across the still war-scarred terrain, Connor soon learns about sacrifice and heroism with his mission taking some unexpected paths.
‘The Water Diviner’ marks a respectable directorial debut for Crowe. Grasping the story’s themes and characters with ease, he reveals flair in blending them together. His handling of the culture clashes between Connor and those he meets are especially fascinating. Not only does Connor deal with tension amongst the Turks but also the stifling British bureaucracy. The immediate aftermath of such a bloody war is interestingly told, with passions still running high.
Another plus are the locations which look amazing. From the Australian outback’s rugged terrain to Turkey’s natural beauty, ‘The Water Diviner’ has a good sense of place. These further magnify the differing nationalities and the character’s determined natures. Whilst some editing choices and a few out of place action scenes muddy the narrative, ‘The Water Diviner’ succeeds in being a film of quality.
Generally free of the pretention of many local drama films, ‘The Water Diviner’ is something many should appreciate. Crowe doesn’t disgrace himself as a director or performer with his latest a more than decent directorial debut.
Rating out of 10: 7
When a child leaves the family home to the occasional dismay of parents, this usually results in the ‘empty nest syndrome’. How these fresh waters are navigated has seen marriages sink or swim whilst forging the new horizons free of daily parental responsibilities. ‘Folies Bergere’ uses this concept to good effect. A French romantic comedy, the direction and cast enhance the tale of someone eager to rejuvenate their stagnant life.
Working on a farm with husband Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), Brigette (Isabelle Huppert) yearns for more personal challenges. After the recent departure of their son from the familial home, she leaves her husband to seek adventure. Finding herself in Paris, she begins a romance with suave stranger Jesper (Michael Nyqvist). With rekindled energy and outlook, Brigette’s actions have a marked effect on her marriage in ways she never would have imagined.
Directed by Mark Fitoussi, ‘Folies Bergere’ is different from the usual rom-com fare. Instead of clear heroes and villains, Fitoussi’s characters have genuinely complex emotions. Xavier and Brigette are a loving couple looking to escape marital inertia. Any long-term partners would have their ups and downs with their ability to consistently re-fresh their union a key to longevity. The issues of love and fidelity are explored with keen astuteness and played well by a fine ensemble.
Unlike many French-set films ‘Folies Bergere’ doesn’t linger too long on the surrounds. It ensures the story remains front and centre than the admittedly lush vistas. Deconstructing and then re-assembling Xavier and Brigette’s marriage, the script effectively shows both facets of the coin. Wisely avoiding showing sympathy for either side, it leaves it to audiences to judge their deeds. The level of emotional authenticity further magnifies the realism ‘Folies Bergere’s captures, making for continually engaging viewing.
An interesting foray into the nature of love and marriage, ‘Folies Bergere’ is generally satisfying. Having some unexpected twists, how couples can re-engage with each other is a theme ‘Folies Bergere’ runs with well.
Rating out of 10: 7